1 of 5 | Veteran running back Raheem Mostert was the Miami Dolphins leading rusher in 2022. File Photo by Thom Baur/UPI | License Photo
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla., Aug. 3 (UPI) -- Coaches say the Miami Dolphins employ a running back group that can improve a rushing attack that has been mostly dormant over the past two decades, amid rumors of potential interest in free agent Dalvin Cook.
The team is also putting increased emphasis on improving in the offensive category this season.
Asked Friday if the team has a group capable of achieving rushing goals in 2023, running backs coach Eric Studesville said, "Absolutely."
"It's a talented room. It's a room full of good guys."
The room features Raheem Mostert, the Dolphins' leading rusher in 2022, Jeff Wilson Jr., Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed and rookies Devon Achane and Chris Brooks.
"I really like the room and [fullback] Alec Ingold gives us a great physical component in there," Studesville said. "So I love the room."
The Dolphins ran for the eighth-fewest rushing yards in the NFL last season. They ran for the third-fewest yards in 2021-22 and ranked last in rushing in 2019-20.
"We certainly could have been better, but we've got to focus on that," Studesville said. "We are working on that. That has been a point of emphasis for us this year already. We are continuing to push it."
The Dolphins haven't ranked inside the Top 10 for rushing yards since 2016. They've owned a Top 5 rushing offense just once over the last 20 years.
Mike McDaniel, who was touted as a running-game guru before he became Dolphins head coach, Studesville and players are tasked with improving the running game with players on the roster. The Dolphins front office could change that scenario with a transaction as the season nears.
McDaniel told reporters last week that Cook, who was visiting the New York Jets, is a "great player," but also said he is "extremely happy" with the current Dolphins running backs.
Studesville said the Dolphins are trying to develop "compete" players at the position, who can run, catch, evade defenders and block. Mostert, a former wide receiver, said he focused this off-season on improving his stance and coming out of routes, hoping to boost his pass-catching skills.
"It's just all those little things that you know, help you to be an elite pass catcher," Mostert said. "For me, I've always understood the importance of all the minute details that go into being a receiver, so I just need to go out there and get the opportunity to show what I'm capable of doing.
"I've been doing it for years. It's just now I'm on a on a road where I want to be a complete back."
The eight-year veteran -- known as one of the fastest players in the NFL -- totaled a team-high 891 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 181 attempts in 16 appearances last season. He also made a career-high 31 catches for 202 yards and two scores.
"We brought the group back, and then we got the rookies coming in," Mostert said. "It brings a lot of versatility into the unit. We all have the attributes and we all want to just show the attributes as best as possible. I think that this is the offense to do it."
Mostert said timing has been an emphasis for the Dolphins this season, with the offense attempting to get play calls in faster. Lining up more quickly, paired with defenses keeping track of Dolphins wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, could create more room to run.
Part of what triggered the Dolphins' offensive interruption last season was their 118 penalties, tied for the most of the NFL, many of which came before snaps. The team also faded from a commitment to its running game.
The Dolphins, who totaled the second-fewest rushing attempts in the league, were 3-3 through six games last season. They then went on a five-game winning streak. They averaged 31 rushing attempts per game during that hot streak.
They then lost five consecutive games, while averaging 19 carries per game.
"You've got electric people [wide receivers] on the outside as well and a tremendous quarterback," Wilson said. "It's hard not to utilize those guys. It's up to us doing our job and making it hard to go away from us."
Wilson said he would welcome Cook's addition to the group, but contends that the Dolphins can already be a title contender.
"He's a great player," Wilson said of Cook. "We would love to have him. It would make our room that much more competitive and make everybody step up to another level, even though we already are at another level.
"But competition always breeds greatness. To have him come, the tremendous player he is [would be] another addition to the Super Bowl run."
The Dolphins will host the Atlanta Falcons in a preseason game at 7 p.m. EDT Aug. 11 in Miami Gardens.